With presidential elections forthcoming in 2016, a large number of politicized issues are being discussed frequently in conjunction with candidate campaigns. One of these is crucial and deserves bi-partisan attention: climate change. Having an alarming and continuous impact on every citizen globally, climate change is an environmentally devastating issue which must be addressed, and therefore it is extremely important that college students educate themselves and get engaged with this topic.
In the midst of these election preparations and issue discussions, the United Nations will be hosting a conference in Paris to discuss climate change and work on an effective global approach to minimizing further human impact on the planet. This event will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, with live streaming on the U.N. Web TV website (webtv.un.org).
While past climate conferences have largely failed in their ability to produce real commitments, and more so in their enforcement of them, this meeting is calling for a different method of action. Each of the nations involved is asked to bring its own document of intentions, called an Intended Nationally Determined Contribution, or INDC. By formulating individualized benchmarks and agreements, the goal is to develop a more attainable U.N. plan of action. Over 120 submissions have already been proposed and are publicly available on the website for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.
As a student, there is much you can do to be engaged in the process. As in any other political or social issue, the first step is to inform yourself on the relevant issues, and to seek out the answers to related questions. Reading these documents is a great way to become an informed climate-change advocate, by seeing how each country is making commitments and understanding how to move forward with more conscious actions. Other opportunities for education and action exist, with the prevalence of online petitions and the ability to get involved in more personal ways. Students can even bring these topics into the classroom, as sustainability and solutions to climate change are interdisciplinary, and academic discussions of these topics are always useful.
Another way to stay informed while on campus is via initiatives like the Climate Reality Project’s annual 24 Hours of Reality event. This live broadcast on Nov. 13 and 14 aims to create 24 straight hours of media coverage on climate change and related science, in the face of constant neglect of this topic by major news sources. Every three hours, the broadcast will move to a new global region, with presentations in eight different nations. This coverage culminates with the final hours live from Paris and led by Climate Reality founder Al Gore himself.
Between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., presentations, musical guests, and special appearances will be taking place in the eastern United States. The Office of Sustainability invites you to tune in at any time at 24hoursofreality.org or join us for a watch party. We will be live-streaming these hours in the Ziegler second floor lounge on Friday, Nov. 13, where we will have discussions, snacks and more.
Lawrenceville Eco Rep
Printed in the 11/11/15 issue.